Princess Diana made a huge impact on the world before her untimely death in 1997. Many of the foundations and programs that she started are still around today. And while she may live on in many of our hearts, Prince Harry and Prince William constantly strive to continue to carry on their mother’s legacy.
On his royal South African tour, Harry has done a number of things to pay homage to his mother.
Over the weekend, Harry went to visit the Born Free to Shine project in Luanda, Angola. The program focuses on preventing HIV transmission from mothers to their children through education, medical testing, and treatment.
While there, Harry met with a number of pregnant women who were learning about HIV and also spent time with some HIV+ teens.
Princess Diana had a long history of trying to change the way that the world viewed HIV and AIDS. In 1987, she visited the London Middlesex Hospital and was photographed shaking hands with a man who was HIV+. In the photo, she chose not to wear gloves, which battled the idea that one could catch HIV via touch.
“If a royal was allowed to go in shake a patient’s hands, somebody at the bus stop or the supermarket could do the same,” John O’Reilly, a nurse who was at the hospital when Diana took the iconic photo, told the BBC. “That really educated people.”
“When, that April, she shook the hand of a 32-year-old man with HIV, in front of the cameras, she knew exactly what she was doing,” Prince Harry said in a speech in 2017, according to People. “She was using her position as Princess of Wales, the most famous woman in the world, to challenge everyone to educate themselves, to find their compassion, and to reach out to those who need help instead of pushing them away.”
In a way, this act broke royal protocol. Curtseying or nodding upon meeting a royal is the general way to greet them. Touching certainly crosses a boundary. In more recent years, the royal family has become more relaxed and informal when it comes to greeting others, though.
Many aspects of this tour could be considered an ode to Diana. Just a few days prior to this incident, Prince Harry retraced his mother’s steps across a minefield in Huambo.
“It has been emotional retracing my mother’s steps along this street 22 years on, and to see the transformation that has taken place, from an unsafe and desolate place into a vibrant community of local businesses and colleges,” Harry said at the site. “This is a wonderful example of how the UK partnership with Angola can address the issue of landmines, bringing prosperity to an area, creating jobs, helping people access education and healthcare, and making communities safer. The work of de-mining is dangerous, expensive, and laborious, and I have the utmost admiration and respect for all who do this hazardous work and risk their lives in service of their community.”
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